December 21, 1999
The first Atlas II Centaur rocket ever to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base lifted off into sun-synchronous low earth orbit December 18 from a launch pad that had been completely rebuilt to accommodate larger Atlas launch vehicles by Bechtel National, Inc., under contract to Lockheed Martin Astronautics.Lockheed Martin and International Launch Services (ILS) successfully launched the EOS Terra remote sensing satellite for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 3 East (SLC-3E) on the central California coast. The satellite, which is a major component of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise and the first in a series of EOS satellites, was launched on an Atlas IIAS at 10:58 a.m. PST.
Remote Sensing Satellite Launched From Pad Designed And Constructed By Bechtel National At Vandenberg Afb
Weighing 10,506 pounds (4,775 kg) and costing $1.3 billion, Terra is the largest and most expensive satellite ever launched on Atlas by Lockheed Martin Astronautics, the Denver-based manufacturer of the Atlas rocket and the Centaur upper stage. ILS is Lockheed Martin's San Diego-based launch services provider.
Between 1992 and 1997, Bechtel provided design, procurement, construction, and testing and validation services for a $200 million state-of-the-art launch facility at SLC-3E that allows the pad to accommodate a series of larger Atlas vehicles.
In carrying out its assignment, Bechtel work crews dismantled and removed an existing 210-foot mobile service tower and umbilical mast, built a new tower and mast on top of a launch services building, and modified the services building itself. Other elements of the job included installation of a heating-ventilating-air conditioning system and various physical security facilities, as well as expansion of the complex's fuel storage and loading systems.
Prior to its work at Vandenberg, Bechtel National, the high-technology contracting arm of Bechtel Group, Inc., had previously designed and built Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral in Florida. During the last 10 years, Bechtel National has accumulated more space launch facility design/build experience than any other company in the world. Bechtel's current workload includes several space-related projects for defense and commercial customers in the U.S. and internationally.
In addition to space launch facilities, Bechtel National specializes in providing premier management and technical services to a broad cross section of government customers, including the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense, in the areas of the nuclear fuel cycle, defense, space, national security, and the environment.
Currently, Bechtel National and its subsidiaries have more than 13,000 personnel working on more than 75 projects in 36 states and 11 countries that generate $2.3 billion in revenue annually.